5 Exams, 2 Weeks: Getting Motivated & Maintaining Work-Life Balance

We’re about half way through the Fall term of second year and to mark the occasion, we have 5 exams (3 exams, 2 finals) within 2 weeks. That is uncharacteristically brutal compared to the normal 1 test per week that we have been accustomed to thus far in vet school.

Regardless of the seemingly chaotic schedule of exams, I feel pretty calm, not stressed. There was a moment going into the two weeks that I wondered how I would get through it, but that passed quickly as I focused on each task at hand. Study for first exam, take exam, take night off, study for second exam, take exam, night off, etc…over and over until the exams are over.

I am definitely successful at striking a work-life balance, which is something I pride myself on. I still go out and exercise regularly. In fact, in the middle of the aforementioned 2 weeks of hell I went to the movies — twice! — and out to dinner & drinks. Part of this is knowing how important it is to take time off, take breaks, to reward yourself for your efforts thus far so that you can refocus your energy before you deplete it completely.

For me, fitting these activities inĀ  my schedule is all a matter of planning. It’s not that I make commitments far in advance and just plan around them — that’s just not characteristic of my spontaneous personality. Instead, I plan for the inevitable — something is bound to come up or I’m going to get the urge to do something. The other thing that makes this balance possible is the fact that I work best when busy and under “pressure.” I can spend an entire free day on the weekend getting barely anything done if I don’t have other things come up. However, if someone tells me that they will be coming over for a movie in 2 hours, those two hours will be more productive than the entire day had been up until that point. Call it motivation. I work well when motivated and motivation involves there being a reward. If I study really hard for 2 hours, I will be able to spend time having fun with someone I like. That reward is priceless and great motivation.